News / USA

Americans in Their 20's Struggle to Get Health Insurance

Michele Gomez is a 23-year-old single mother with no health insurance
Michele Gomez is a 23-year-old single mother with no health insurance
Deborah Block

Democrats in the US Congress are racing to pass health care reform legislation.  Currently, people in their 20s are the largest group in the United States without health insurance. With skyrocketing health care costs, those with low incomes often cannot afford insurance.  Under the legislation, some 30 million uninsured will be able to buy insurance, and some will get government subsidies for it. And that could make health care more affordable.

Michele Gomez is a 23-year-old single mother with no health insurance.  She has a cold and came for medication to the Free Clinic in Arlington, Virginia outside Washington.  Gomez also is having a blood test because she has a heart condition.  

She says because of it, she can only work part-time and she doesn't make enough money to pay for health insurance.

"I need medicine, and sometimes I get heart pains and I have to think about it twice before I go to the hospital because I don't have insurance," said Michele Gomez. "I normally get a big bill and I don't have a way to pay for it."

Nearly half of young adults work part-time and so they are less likely to be offered health insurance at their jobs.  

The U.S. government estimates that 30 percent of young adults are without health coverage, compared with 17 percent of older adults.

Gomez says she is in favor of health insurance reform.  But she says if she is required to pay for even a small part of her insurance, she can't do it.

"I think they should have done this a long time ago," she said. "It's ridiculous how you can't get insurance, especially if you are a U.S. citizen.  I think that should be one of the major priorities is to get insurance for people, especially if they have a low income."

Health officials say it's important to insure young adults even if they have few health problems.  Nancy Pallesen, head of the Arlington Free Clinic, says their issues can become chronic.

"It's very important for these people to have health care, regular health care, and to have preventative kinds of health care because in the future this will save them a lot of anguish," said Nancy Pallesen.

Currently, most insurance plans allow parents to claim their children as dependents until they are 22-years-old. Under the new legislation, young adults will be able to remain on their families' policies until the age of 26.

Ronald Perry works in a grocery store and says health insurance is too expensive for him.   He thinks it should be optional.

"Everybody can make their own decisions and if you choose to have health care you shouldn't be forced to do it at 26 or 30," said Ronald Perry. "If you want it at 45 or 50 you should be able to get it then."

Young adults are more likely to work in small businesses that don't offer health care plans.

Isidro Duran is one of them.  He came to the U.S. from Honduras 10 years ago and works in a small restaurant in Washington.  He says he would like affordable health insurance.

"I am nervous and I am very concerned about it because you never know when you will need it," said Isidro Duran.

Kimlinn Pham, from Vietnam, is a manicurist in a hair salon in Virginia. She hopes health care reform will allow her to buy reasonably priced health insurance.  Pham says even when she's sick she avoids going to the doctor.

"The doctor and hospital are so expensive," said Kimlinn Pham. "I know that they treat you very well.  But later on when you get the bill, you are the one to suffer from the bill.  The doctor won't suffer from that."

Even with new legislation,  the changes in health insurance won't begin for several years.  By that time, some people in their 20s could already be burdened with medical debt and chronic illness.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid